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Rolling research shows promise

“These observations suggest that the roller is a legitimate tool for organic farmers and it will even allow them to completely eliminate tillage in some years.”

– MARTIN ENTZ

Organic farmers might do well to invest in a roller for help in reducing weed pressure.

An experiment in its second year at the Ian N. Morrison Research farm in Carman has shown that using no tillage, only rolling reduced weed pressure in the direct-seeded spring wheat.

Researcher Iris Vaisman from the University of Manitoba used different methods, featured as part of two summer crop tours to find out more about effective tools for organic farmers and for the environment.

Professor Martin Entz said Vaisman found that the rolling did slow the release of N from the preceding green manure crop.

“The previous year’s work (conducted before Vaisman arrived) showed similar things,” said Entz.

“These observations suggest that the roller is a legitimate tool for organic farmers and it will even allow them to completely eliminate tillage in some years.”

While tillage is a good way to combat weed pressure, it is frowned upon as a cause of erosion. Until now, zero tillage or conservation tillage was thought to be only adaptable in conventional systems allowing herbicide applications to combat weeds.

But it seems rolling over the weeds and green manure can produce a good result.

Vaisman had a number of small plots and used tillage, rolling and combinations to properly analyze the results.

Early in the year, it appeared that where the green manure was tilled into the soil, the spring wheat crop was thriving. Rolling the manure into the soil with some tillage also appeared to show some impressive results.

Vaisman will be repeating her experiment in 2009. [email protected]

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